Steven Barnett speaks to Prospect’s Media Confidential podcast about GBNews and Ofcom

15 November 2023

With former prime minister Boris Johnson soon joining Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lee Anderson and Nigel Farage as presenters on GB News, there appears to be little attempt by the channel to provide balance to its roster of right-wing voices and even current Conservative politicians. Should the media regulator insist that it provides that balance, or should broadcasters be allowed to present just one side of a political argument?

On Media Confidential, former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and former FT editor Lionel Barber heard from media professor Steve Barnett, a critic of Ofcom, and veteran commentator and TV executive David Elstein, who views the growth of GB News far more favourably. Barnett gave an overview of the laws and codes on impartiality that should be applied by the media regulator Ofcom to hold GB News to account over its partisan and one-sided content. Barnett argued that Ofcom was allowing far too much discretion to the channel and was neglecting its regulatory duties to enforce impartiality rules under the law. He pointed to the relaxation of equivalent rules in the United States which had been relaxed in the 1980s, giving birth to Fox News and the polarisation and conspiracy theories that the channel has enabled in America. For this reason, he said, Ofcom’s inaction was potentially a threat to democracy in Britain.

You can listen to the podcast below, or on the Prospect website.




Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

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